Revealed from the Shadows: the Body Thieves
By Andrew Besuden

She was running now. This time the man following her for the past week had actually came up to her door and was waiting for her when she got back from work. Why? Why the hell was this freak stalking me? The thoughts pounded in her head as she was running down the block, nearing closer to the police station. What did I ever do to him? Just run some more girl, come on. That was when she felt pain surging from her shins as if someone had just smashed into them. The ground began to come up fast. Slowly she was fading from consciousness as the man walked up to her and kneeled down to look into her face. "You caused me a lot of trouble, little bitch. But soon you're going on a long vacation." The man cracked a smile as her world slowly filled with black.
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The man then stood up and silently whispered to nothingness. "Do it now, my employer needs this body by tomorrow night. Do whatever you want with her just don't let her escape." A cold wind just merely replied, "Of course wild one, I'm one to keep my bargain. My collection needed a lively one just like this one." From across the shroud the sluagh could see the girl being lifted from her body by the ghost, as the sluagh just smiled.

In the dark depths of the secret organization called the Shadow Court, whispery voices have begun to makes deals in the Dreaming and across the Shrouds. They're called the Body Thieves, and these sluagh are running a lucrative business in providing the Adhene with suitable host bodies by the sluagh contacting a group of Sandmen known as Collectors and having them hold onto to the souls of the mortals. This practice does come with several risks (from both the lands of the dead and those kithain courts that have become aware of this atrocity to the escheat).

The Body Thieves are a recent development in the Shadow Court, though the sluagh behind this group have had alliance with the wraiths for a long while. The Body Thieves were originally a part of the Ritualist and these sluagh were a part of the Shadow Court's efforts to gain alliances from the many factions in the land of the dead. However as many of the alliances were made, and broken, these sluagh slowly fell out of the needs of the heads of the Shadow Court. This was not before the sluagh Ritualists met up with one of their more useful allies.

The Stealer of Souls and the Watchers of the Dead
The sluagh Ritualists came upon a group of wraiths that had knowledge in an ability to manipulate dreams, though these particular wraiths used the art for more evil purposes than giving someone a harrowing nightmare. These wraiths are called Collectors for what they do is steal the souls of people while they are sleeping or knocked out. However this spot of fun the Collectors were having a terribly time obtaining enough of something they called "sand," nor could they get enough energy, or "Pathos" as the wraiths called it, to maintain their collections. With the Collectors in desperate need of supplies, the sluagh struck a bargain with the Collectors: the sluagh Ritualists would provide "sand" and gather energy for the Collectors and the Collectors would help out the sluagh Ritualists whenever they called for them.

What is this "sand" that the collectors refer to? Well to put it simply "sand" is potential glamour that is harvested from Dreamers (and Changelings) while they sleep. This allows users of Phantasm, the wraith arcanoi of manipulating dreams to use the arcanoi much more easily.

Coming of the Dark Kin
As the Sluagh Ritualists were needed less and less by the Shadow Court, the group of sluagh began to do more and more freelance work for their own personal deeds and, with a hand from across the shroud to provide with some good diversion and back up, they started to rise in the field of "pest removal." The Shadow Court was pleased with how the Sluagh Ritualists, now slowly being called Body Thieves for the number of coma victims left in their wake. Then came the Week of Nightmares. With the Dream Storm raging on, the Body Thieves gained a new group of employers as they came roaring into their freehold. The Dark Kin, or Adhene as they called themselves, had started to come back to the Autumn World. However unlike their counterparts in the kithain courts, they had no body of flesh to shield them from the banality. It was the fuath and fir-bholg that made contact with the Body Thieves (some say it's the other way around) and they made a simple demand of the sluagh: The acquirement of suitable protection against the chilling winds of banality, or else. With this impetus, and with a small acquiescence from the Adhene, the Body Thieves began looking for prime candidates for their "employers." This has put the Collectors on over time, causing the Body Thieves to give them more time to feed of the emotions of the Thieves themselves.

The Art of Body Stealing
One would think that the Body Thieves have an easy task of gathering bodies for their Dark-kin employers. Fat chance. The fuath and fir-bholg have asked for perfect specimens of human beings to become their new hosts. This means that the sluagh have to begin tailing after potential donors, making sure that the target is good enough to become a Dark-kin's new body. What comes next usually depends on the Body Thief in question. Some prefer to wait for the right moment to cast the Cantrip, while others go for a more physical style, and there are some who wait for the victim to fall asleep. Whatever path taken, the main goal is to knock the victim unconscious for a long enough period so that the Collector wraith can come and snatch the soul away. The whole process can take up to 3 weeks in order to find the right host and arrange everything with the wraith. Once the Collector Wraith has taken away the soul of the human the sluagh then must take the body to a secure location to allow the Dark-kin to possess the body.

The Process of Taking Over
For those who want to role-play a scene like this for their Dark-kin character, here's the run down of getting a brand new body. First the Adhene in question must have at least 4 dots in Autumn Lore and have learned at least the first level of Autumn Way (see Denizens of the Dreaming). The Adhene must also have dross in order to pay off the Body Thief; amount depends on the type of body wanted. Once the body has been procured and Body Thief paid for his services, the fun part begins for the Adhene. First the Adhene must cast Insufflation to possess the body with a number of successes equal to the body's banality, which at this time is 4-5 (due to the soul being on permanent hiatus). Next the Adhene must spend a point of willpower and a number of glamour (equal to the body's banality). Once this is completed the Adhene has a new body, while the Original soul now becomes a permanent part of a Collector's collection. This can only work with normal humans, and if a prodigal is being used the process immediately fails.

On the Job Hazards
Along with the difficulty of finding, procuring and getting paid for stealing the body of a human; there are other things that can make the whole task a lot worse. One of biggest threats out there is if the kithain courts actually find out what the Body Thieves are doing. To the kithain courts, what the Body Thieves are doing constitutes as a violation of the Escheat and the usual result is long confinement in the dungeons and/or death, though with the current problems in Concordia has given Body Thieves some breathing space in order to move along. The second threat are the Hunters and Dauntain who see the sluagh and the wraiths working together to steal human souls as a totally evil, which doesn't necessarily make them wrong in that accusation. The final threat often comes from a Collector's whose darker half has taken over causing no ends of trouble for the Body Thief who's on the bad end of this assault.

There are currently 20 members in the Body Thieves and they are all in Concordia, with at least a couple of members in each kingdom, with each group handling the business of procuring new bodies for their Adhene employers. The head of the group consists of four sluagh. These were the ones who originally made contact with the Collectors, and continue in finding more sources of "sand" and Pathos for their wraith compatriots. The heads of the Body Thieves have been known on occasion to do jobs to stock pile bodies for a viewing pleasure of the Adhene who need a body sooner rather than later, Often keeping 2-3 comatose human bodies stored away in a secure location, as well as faculties to insure the bodies are kept alive during the time. This equipment is maintained by Dr. Bessoza, one of the four heads of the Body Thieves. Originally a doctor dealing with comatose patients before she chrysallised, Dr. Bessoza now uses this knowledge to obtain the right human body without damaging it and keep them fresh and ready for the next Adhene in need of a body.

Playing as a Body Thief
For those who wish to create a Body Thief there are some certain requirements. First this group is entirely composed of Sluagh who are members of the Shadow Court. Its is required that they have at least 3 dots in Wraith Lore to signify their relationship with the Collectors, and also have at least One dots in allies to represent their ghostly partner in crime. Also Body Thieves have at least two dots in Legerdemain, and at least three Dots in the Actor Realm.